The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA) met for the first Winemakers Roundtable at Monte De Oro Winery on the evening of September 17th. This Wine & Culinary Showcase had over 30 wineries in attendance and featured over 100 of Temecula’s wines and 15 artisan chefs and restaurants.
Meredith May from The Tasting Panel Magazine interviewed new and veteran Temecula Valley winemakers in a roundtable, question & answer discussion on the valley’s history, as well as the future as Southern California’s premier wine region. The discussion was then followed by a fun-filled celebration of California Wine Month, which allowed guests to mingle among the local winery owners and growers. Everyone enjoyed a sparkling wine reception and then toured Monte De Oro’s vast patio where the individual booths provided the best wine and food, Temecula style!
The Winemakers Panel included: Craig Larson of Callaway Vineyard & Winery; Steve Hagata of Falkner Winery; Jim Hart of Hart Winery; Tim Kramer of Leonesse Cellars; Gus Viszgirda and Maurice Van Roekel of Van Roekel and Maurice Car’rie Wineries; Steve Andrews of Oak Mountain; Nick Palumbo of Palumbo Family Winery; John McPherson & Javier Flores of South Coast Winery Resort; and David Bradley of Vindemia Winery.
The vineyard-encased patio at the beautiful Monte De Oro Winery played host to the premier event where winery owners, winemakers, and chefs joined the nearly 500 guests in attendance. Everyone had a chance to sample incredible Temecula wines along with the culinary creations of over a dozen local restaurants, including Thornton’s Cafe Champagne, Meritage at Callaway, Pinnacle at Falkner, Smokehouse at Ponte, Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek, Gourmet Italia, Gambling Cowboy, Vail Ranch, Winchester Cheese and many more. This was a wonderful opportunity for guests to taste their way through Temecula’s wine and culinary scene at a single location!
Some of the many pertinent issues that were addressed by the panel included changing the perception of Temecula, as it has suffered from a prejudged reputation. Panel members were proud to be able to say that this is now a thing of the past and the Temecula Wine Country is now considered Southern California’s “New Frontier.”
In a wine market dominated by Chardonnay, winemakers are attempting to teach consumers about other fantastic varietals, such as the lovely Syrahs, Cabernets, and Viogniers produced locally. The panel discussed how Temecula needs to make a “defining statement” per the types of wine that are produced here – to become known for certain varietals, much like Napa is known for Chardonnay and Santa Barbara for Pinot Noir.
Why choose Temecula Wines? A few of the advantages as discussed by the panel: Compared to Napa and other northern wine countries, Temecula is better able to control the amount of water used in the vineyards. Intense, flavorful wines are produced when the grapes are stressed and grown in extreme conditions – deficit irrigation, for example. The amount of rainfall down here is minimal compared to Northern California, so irrigation is the main source of water for grape growing – not rainfall. More control over how the grape is grown equals better wine. Also, Temecula boasts numerous micro-climates and soil types that enable winegrowers to produce a wide variety of grapes and wines. There are very few limitations as to which varietals can be grown here. Another advantage that Temecula has is that it’s within a 2-hour drive of almost 30 million people. That’s 30 million potential consumers. Residents of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties can easily make a day trip to our wine country, enjoying the tasting rooms, restaurants, and bed & breakfast inns located on both wine trails – Rancho California and De Portola. The potential wine-buying market in Southern California is enormous.
As the consumer becomes more wine-savvy, Temecula winemakers are opening their ears and listening. Their likes, dislikes, etc. – everything is being noted and incorporated into the winemaking process. This will lead to better & more consistent wines, more awards, better recognition, and eventually, more customers. Temecula will no longer be a special “secret” – it’ll be able to compete with the Napa and Rhone Valleys of the world.
For more information on the TVWA, visit www.temeculawines.org